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Changes made to pregnancy discrimination guidelines

Deciding to have a child can be a very exciting time in a person’s life. However, that excitement could become tainted if an employer expresses negative attitudes toward an employee potentially becoming pregnant. There have, unfortunately, been numerous cases of pregnancy discrimination across the country, including in California. However, recent changes in discrimination guidelines may help lessen the likelihood of employees facing such a situation.

Updates to the pregnancy discrimination guidelines were recently made by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the first time in over 30 years. These changes were made in hopes of making the guidelines clearer regarding the prohibitions against treating pregnant women or women who may become pregnant unfairly in the workplace. These guidelines protect women from facing bias due to the pregnancy itself or health issues related to pregnancy.

As long as women are qualified for the position for which they are in or applying for, employers are not allowed to disregard a worker due to pregnancy or the potential to become pregnant. Accommodations should also be made in order to help pregnant employees who face related disabilities, such as morning sickness, better handle their duties. For example, workers who are affected by morning sickness may be able to arrive later and stay later to adjust work hours around the sickness.

Though these guidelines will hopefully lessen the cases of pregnancy discrimination, it is not likely they it will be entirely eradicated. Therefore, if individuals in California feel that they have been treated unfairly on the job due to pregnancy or the intent to become pregnant, they may wish to consider their legal options. By becoming more knowledgeable about the discrimination guidelines and changes, a party may be better able to assess their situation and decide if a case is right for them.

Source: The New York Times, "Equal Opportunity Employment Officials Take New Aim at Pregnancy Bias", Steven Greenhouse, July 14, 2014

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